We tested positive on a home pregnancy test in early January. This came as a huge surprise as I was on the birth control pill. So, I scheduled an appointment with my OB. When I went in to the office in February I saw a nurse practitioner and she used a Doppler to listen for the heartbeat. After a few minutes of searching she heard it. I sighed with relief. I had two miscarriages and I was worried it would happen again. Anyway, at this appointment I was 9 weeks and thinking I was only having one baby. The NP told me about a study some doctors were doing to determine if a baby had spina bifida through ultrasound. I had to be seen between 10 and 14 weeks and besides that it was free! So I called and got an appointment.
March 7, 2002...We were at 12 weeks when we went in for the ultrasound to the hospital. The office is where my peri practices and we were about to meet him for the first time. We were taken back to an exam room after filling out several forms and a long wait. The ultrasound tech started with the exam. She told us then that we were actually 14 weeks. Since we were only expecting one baby she showed us a head and tummy in one shot. There was a hand in a strange position but I didn’t really think anything of it. She printed out a picture and then right after that she said, “Oh there are two in there.” I looked at my husband and looked back at the screen in disbelief. Then we just started to laugh. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Hearing the tech say Baby A and Baby B was almost too much. After she got a few pictures she started to look a little harder and was saying something about a membrane. I knew nothing about twin pregnancies so I always thought twins shared a sac. Looking back I can’t believe how naive I was. The tech excused herself after five to ten minutes and said the doctor would be in soon. We just laughed and laughed after she left. We had two boys already. One that was 3½ and one that was 15 months old. How were twins going to be coming? The doctor entered and started with his exam. He turned to us and said he wasn’t going to talk a whole lot because he was looking for the membrane. After about 5 minutes he turned to us and said something about monoamniotic and a 50% chance of survival. We were just numb and shocked. He told us to go online and get some more information.
We left that day speechless. Jarrod went to work and searched for information. He brought home a bunch of information explaining how it happens and how rare it is. The peri said he wanted to see us again in 4 weeks and that we needed to see my regular OB as soon as possible. We had an appointment scheduled with her two days later. One of the first things she said to us was that our peri had spoken with her and she was going to hand over my complete care to him at 22 weeks. So plans were made for us to be seen every 4 weeks until viability and then we would be discussing further plans once we were closer to that date. This was about the time when I read a post on the web site about a lady who lost both her babies at 16 weeks. I was 18 weeks at the time and I just started believing they were gone. I had convinced myself that I was carrying stillborns and it was really starting to get me down. We went in for our next ultrasound the day after my birthday and the ultrasound tech started the exam by measuring Baby A’s head. I had to stop her and ask if they were okay. I just lay there with my eyes closed waiting to hear the bad news. She moved to Baby A’s heart and said it was beating and then she quickly showed us another beating heart for Baby B. I opened my eyes and took a huge sigh of relief. We just watched in amazement while they measured the girls. They were both healthy and growing well. We saw my regular OB and she said that I would start to feel movement more frequently. What a relief! I no longer felt like I had to expect they were gone as much as I had been before. I made sure I felt something everyday until delivery.
We continued to go on with our daily lives. I tried to focus so much on work and family so I wouldn’t think about the bad stuff. I knew it would be very easy to fall back into the sad thoughts and I just didn’t want to anymore. We counted the days until our next appointment. We had been researching and trying to learn as much about the management strategies as possible. Jarrod knew so much more than I did and was such a rock for me to lean on. I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t been as supportive as he was.
Anyway, after seeing our peri for the second time he suggested NSTs three times per week and weekly ultrasounds. We had taken the Rodis study to him and he said he had already seen it and then kind of disregarded it. We left a little discouraged and decided to think it through. With a little help from Nick we decided not to settle for anything less than daily NSTs. So again, we continued counting the days until the next appointment. I made sure I felt the girls move everyday at least once, even though my OB said I wasn’t supposed to feel movement everyday until I was 24 weeks. I really wasn’t going to settle for that. I needed to feel them everyday or I would have lost my sanity.
The next appointment was the planning appointment. This was where Jarrod and I went in thinking, “we are going to make this peri do daily NSTs”. The ultrasound tech took us back and measured the girls. They were growing and moving so much. Then the doctor came in. We were ready. He did his exam and then turned to us and said, “Well, I think we should decide what the plan will be for the duration of the pregnancy. What do you guys want to do?” I looked at Jarrod and he told him, “Daily NSTs.” The peri looked at us and said, “Okay. I think you two have done a lot of research and you know what you want. I’ll walk you over to the Antenatal testing room and introduce you to the nurses.” That was it. No fighting. No negotiating. He introduced us and said that he would try to get them done at home so we didn’t have to drive in everyday. That didn’t end up working out so we came to the hospital everyday. Most of the time it was pretty uneventful. At first the girls would move a lot and they couldn’t get a good strip on them. So office policy stated that anytime a strip wasn’t reactive they would do a BPP. We got BPPs done everyday we went in. I loved it because we got to see the girls everyday. We saw some pretty cool things during the BPPs. Such as, one of them sucking her thumb and we even got to see one of them blink. I just kept thinking about how lucky we were to be able to see these moments because of this condition of the pregnancy. They passed every BPP 8 of 10 each day.
We were first admitted to the hospital for continuous monitoring at 27 weeks. The peri first took us into an exam room to look at the cords. We had discussed steroids at about 30 - 31 weeks. Just one round because he said that he thought more than that could cause more harm than good. While he was looking at the cords he just kept rubbing his head and saying, “It is just too soon.” I was freaking out. There was no way I wanted to deliver yet. He turned to us and said that we needed to stay the night and have continuous monitoring. He walked us over to Labor and Delivery after he decided to give us our first round of steroids. When we got to Labor and Delivery he was explaining to the nurses the nature of the pregnancy and that we needed to be monitored very closely. They were just looking at him as though he was crazy.
After being at the hospital every day for these tests we really could have put the monitors on ourselves, so when our nurse came in and was really struggling it took everything I had to not push her out of the way and do it myself. We had been in the room for about 2 or 3 hours when both of the girls started moving and went off the monitor. They stayed off for about an hour before anyone came in to get them back. She was really having a difficult time finding the girls and just acted like it didn’t really matter anyway. She said, “I just don’t know how he [our peri] expects us to keep these babies on the monitors.” Then she got up and left shrugging her shoulders as she walked out. I looked at Jarrod and said, “Give me that gel.” I got the girls on and held the monitors for over an hour. I was so mad. Needless to say our peri came in the next morning and said that the girls looked fine so we could go home.
That happened five more times over the next five weeks. Sometimes it was only for a couple of hours and sometimes it was for almost 12 hours. Each time we were sent home with reassurance of the girls well being.
We were seeing the peri every other week for ultrasounds and measurements of the girls. During one appointment we actually saw a colleague of his as our peri was in an emergency c-section. He showed us the cords and the placenta. Then, where the membrane would be if there was one. It was pretty neat. By the time our next appointment with our peri came around I was 31 weeks 6 days. We were waiting to be taken back to have our NST when we heard another couple talking about how they were expecting identical twin girls. We just laughed at all the questions they were answering – more out of empathy. Then they said they were monoamniotic. We about fell out of our chairs. We started to talk to them about management plans and what they should expect. Then they were called back. During the NST the peri asked how we were doing and said that he was worried about the cords. He hadn’t seen us in four weeks and was thinking about the cords. He couldn’t believe we were already at 32 weeks. He said that he wanted to see us after we were done. The NST went great and the girls looked good. The other mono couple came by and we talked to them for a while. Then the peri came by and we were taken to an exam room. The girls were measured at 3 lbs. 4 oz and 3 lbs. 11 oz. He took one look at the cords at turned to us with the options we had. He said, “I just don’t have a very good feeling about these girls if we go much longer. I think we need to either admit you for continuous until 34 weeks or deliver…based on what the neonatologists say. I want you to have one more round of steroids while I talk to the NICU.” And with that he left and a nurse came in with the shot. By the time he came back – within five minutes – he was pretty much convinced we needed to deliver. The neonatologists said that if they were 32 weeks and I had already had steroids that there was no question – Deliver. So it was decided that I would be admitted for continuous until I delivered the next day at noon.
I had been working full time taking about 2 ½ hours during work to travel to the hospital to have the NSTs done. So after we got the news about delivering I called work and left a message saying I wasn’t coming back for a while if at all. Jarrod and I just kept laughing and shaking our heads in complete disbelief. I called my sisters to get my two boys from daycare. When they got there and told my oldest, Christian – who was 4 at the time – he turned to Kaden (18 months) and said, “I am going to be a big brother again and so are you!” I laughed pretty hard when I heard that!
That night and the next day were pretty intense. We didn’t get much sleep – partly due to the total lack of comfort from the Labor and Delivery bed, partly from knowing that I would be able to see the miracles that I had been blessed with. I had been working with a lady at work who knew one of the nurses in the NICU where I would be delivering, so she told Denise (our primary NICU nurse) about us. At about 11:00 am she came in to introduce herself and to tell us that she would be taking care of our girls while they were in the NICU. It was very nice to already have a familiar face in a very overwhelming part of the hospital – as we would soon find out.
One of the peri residents came in at about 11:50 am and said that there was another baby that was 25 weeks that needed to be delivered and we would probably need to wait until that baby was delivered before our girls would be delivered. Okay. I think that probably calmed me down more than it freaked me out. Jarrod was given a white jumpsuit that we affectionately called the marshmallow suit. He was also fitted with a blue cap and blue shoe covers. My dad wrote “DAD” on the back of the suit, which all of the nurses and doctors found very amusing. At 12:00 p.m. I was walked down to the operating room and the anesthesiologist started doing his thing. He told me that I would be getting a spinal instead of an epidural. The spinal would numb me from the breasts down instead of the waist down. I had epidurals with both of the boys so I was all about more drugs rather than less! It was honestly five minutes after he started that I felt nothing. A nurse got started on prepping my tummy and I was starting to get nervous. Jarrod was sitting at my head getting instructions about what to do if he got sick. I was given an oxygen mask that smelled so bad I started getting sick. Finally the sheet went up in front of my face and I closed my eyes. I was so tired and just wanted to go to sleep. The peri came in and they started. He was not exactly excited about the musical selection that was being played and made the nurses turn it off. Then he went to work. Pretty soon I heard, “There’s Baby A.” Jarrod turned to me and said, “She’s out, babe.” We had the names picked based on birth order so all I kept being concerned about was the names getting mixed up. Silly, I know! Then, “Baby B is here.” The doctor kept saying how beautiful they were. I was smiling so much but I could not open my eyes still!
When the knot came out the antenatal nurse we had asked to be in the delivery had taken our digital camera and was taking a bunch of pictures. The peri said, “Oh, I am so glad you brought a camera!” He was trying to speak Spanish the whole time and was joking with all of the nurses in the delivery room, so it was a very light atmosphere. I was then given a tubal and put back together. When I was wheeled to my room the time on the clock read 1:05 p.m. That was fast, I thought. It was then I found out the girls were born at 12:33 and 12:34 p.m. The peri came to get Jarrod to go see the girls. When he came back he said the NICU was crazy. There were people everywhere, but when our doctor walked in it was as though he had parted the Red Sea. He told me that Brooklyn (Baby A) weighed 3 lbs. 2 oz and Barrett (Baby B) weighed 3 lbs. 1 oz. I couldn’t believe how close in weight they were. They were not on a vent, but had nasal prongs for their oxygen needs. Because of the 25 weeker being delivered and then being transferred to the Children’s Hospital I was not allowed to go to the NICU until about 5:30 p.m. I was wheeled down and was so sick from the spinal I threw up right when we got there. There was no way I was leaving so I sucked it up and was wheeled over to Brooklyn. She was so little and had so much hair! I started to get sick again and threw up. The neonatologists told me to go back to my room and rest. So back I went. I hadn’t even seen Barrett. I stayed in my room until about 10:00 am the next day. At about 5:00 am a nurse practitioner came to my room and told us that the girls oxygen needs had increased so much that they had to be intubated. That kind of bummed us out, but we were strong for them.
During my stay in the hospital the girls stayed on the vents and had two blood transfusions. So much actually happened on the day of and the day after their births. They both had arterial lines and feeding tubes put in on the 12th of July as well as their IV fluids – also known as hyperal. The doctors decided to give them doses of surfactant to possibly help with the vents. This didn’t help in the long run because of a problem with a vent in their hearts that didn’t close as it usually does in term babies. This is called a PDA. This usually can be closed with medicine (Decadron) and in the more serious cases a small surgery to clamp the vent shut if the medicine doesn’t work. Both girls’ vents closed after three doses - 12 hours apart from each other – of the medicine. Thank goodness! That worried everyone quite a bit. They pretty much did everything on the same day from then on. The only exception to that is when Barrett was put back on the vent after being off it for one day. (They were both on the vents for the first time for seven days.) Barrett was then re-extubated four days later and put under an oxyhood. That was gone the next day, but the nasal prongs were put on. They both stayed on the oxygen for good until the 26th of August. Only four days before going home. After Barrett’s second vent experience, it was pretty boring. Just waiting for them to nurse and learn how to suck, swallow, breath. That took them a little while, but once they got the hang of breast-feeding they loved it. They were and actually still are the slowest breast feeders in the world. They must love to hold mom!
After seven weeks and 1 day in the NICU both of our girls came home together. It was so nice to have them come home on the same day…I don’t know how I would have done it if it wasn’t that way. Barrett was still having some brady spells about a week before discharge so she had to come home on a monitor. She also came home on Reglan and Zantac for reflux. That was an interesting experience for me! I had to give the meds during the middle of the night and actually gave it to Brooklyn once! We went in to the doctor’s office on Tuesday (they went home on a Friday) and he stopped the meds. I absolutely hated the monitor. It was set way too low for the heart rate so while I was getting bottles ready she would get mad and the monitor would alarm. We went back to the doctor that Thursday – to see if they were gaining weight – and I expressed my feelings about the monitor. He told me that we could discontinue using it, which made me so glad. It came off in the doctor’s office.
Ever since they have been doing great.
We are so grateful to have been chosen to be the parents of such amazing babies. What a miracle life is…You can check out Brittney's blog at http://jarrodandbritt.blogspot.com/2008/04/day-15.html
In January 2007 I discovered I was pregnant with what I thought was our second child. In the past I had a missed miscarriage so instead of waiting for an ultrasound at 12 weeks – which is standard in New Zealand we decided to ask for an early scan at 8 weeks to make sure everything was on track.
We went for our ultrasound and were absolutely shocked to be told that we were expecting identical twins. I don’t remember being told directly that the babies were monoamniotic but I did do an internet search the next day and information on monoamniotic twins came up. I looked at my ultrasound and was concerned that I couldn’t see a membrane dividing the babies. My neighbour was training to be a midwife and I checked with her – she couldn’t see a membrane either but I used her text books and realized how rare monoamniotic twins are. This put my mind at rest as I figured I just wouldn’t be that unlucky.
New Zealand but Wellington in particular has a midwifery shortage. I didn’t have an independent midwife assigned to me so the results of the ultrasound were sent to my GP. My GP rung and left me a message saying that the babies were looking like being monoamniotic and because of this he wanted to refer me to the High Risk Team at Wellington Hospital.
I did a lot of research in the next few weeks and thankfully found monoamniotic.org. I saw that the statistic’s I had read at first were outdated and my babies had a good chance of being delivered. I saw that there was a window at around 10 – 12 weeks were the membrane is more visible. I already had a Nucal Fold ultrasound scheduled for 12 weeks so I was sure that this ultrasound would show the membrane and we would no longer be monoamniotic.
I went for my Nucal Fold ultrasound and while in the parking lot I received a call from the High Risk Team nurse trying to schedule an appointment and ultrasound with me for the following week. Happily I went up for my Nucal Fold appointment. I ended up with the same Sonograher as I previously. I asked him to re-check for a membrane again and he refused "as it wouldn’t have grown since the last scan". I was so thankful to have received the phone call in the parking lot as I told myself it didn’t matter as the High Risk Team would resolve this.
In the next week or two I had my first appointment with the High Risk Team and it was emotionally really hard. After having an ultrasound and seeing my babies swimming around and then going straight on to talk about the viability was to much for me and I ended up crying through most of the meeting. From then on I prepared myself for the heartbreak of these fortnightly appointments but they were never as difficult as that first one. Michel Sangalli was my specialist and he was really good. Wellington Hospital had only seen 3 other monoamniotic twins in the previous 10 years but they had a good success rate. Michel told me straight up that there was a high misdiagnosis rate but I was not going to be one of these. I found the whole appointment so traumatic and so I’m not sure what he saw on the ultrasound that made him so sure that was going to be the case.
I did a lot of research after this appointment and was very clear on how I wanted this pregnancy managed. I wanted to be admitted as an inpatient at 24 weeks with as much monitoring as I could have. I had read a lot of women’s experiences with battling to get this amount of care and was totally prepared for that battle! Thankfully Michel was totally up with the management of mo-mo’s and there was no question of admission at viability. I did end up changing my mind on viability to be 26 weeks instead of 24.
Until viability I had fortnightly appointments with an ultrasound completed at each appointment. Growth and Dopplers were done at every scan. Every scan was positive with no problems or entanglement seen. Until I felt the babies move strongly the fortnight would pass slowly. The first week after the ultrasound was ok but the next was extremely stressful worrying that the babies weren’t ok. I ended up buying a fetal Doppler off trademe. It was $60 and it totally put my mind at ease. I did think that I would end up being compulsive with it but I only ended up using it if I was worried and it put my mind at ease.
Before admission I really struggled with how much planning to do for these babies to come home. I ended up doing a lot of planning on what I was going to buy without going and buying it. My plan was to go and buy everything I needed once the babies were safely in Neonates but then I wouldn’t have the stress of working out what I needed. I did organize with a close friend that anything I did buy she would return if something went wrong so I did have to face doing that.
Leaving my then 2 year old while being admitted was a mind blowing thought. She attended daycare 2 days a week but I didn’t know how she would cope with me away and how I would cope being away from her. I was lucky that my husband is quite an exceptional man and I knew he would cope being Mr Mom while I was away. When I look back at my pregnancy my endearing thought is the number of sleepless nights where everything was so overwhelming. I was lucky our daycare managed to increase Trelise’s days to 4 and Wayne’s mum came in from out of town to watch her the other day.
I thought my battle with being admitted would be with Sangalli but he was totally on board with in-patient monitoring. The battle instead was with the midwives on the ward. They didn't understand why I was there or even what monoamniotic meant and I was challenged rudely often in the first few weeks of my stay. I didn't feel it was my place to educate them so I complained though the house surgeons who did some education. It did help but still there was misunderstanding and it was really stressful and upsetting. I do have to say that not every midwife in the ward had this problem. I ended up having a friendship with one that pretty much saved my sanity.
My schedule was a CTG (NZ terminology for a NST – it’s the same thing) once a shift or 3x day with a doppler ultrasound once a week and a growth check every fortnight. I would see the House Surgeon and Register once a day and see Michel once a week during the major ward round. I didn't feel like I could take to Michel during this round as there is alot of staff going around with him and I'm quite a shy person. When I had issues I needed to discuss with him I requested through the house surgeon a personal meeting. He was more than happy to come up and talk things through like this. I had steroid shots at 26, 28 and 30 weeks.I was allowed to come and go as I pleased around the monitoring sessions. It kept me sane to have a CTG once I woke up and then go out for the morning with a friend and then come back for lunch and another CTG. I had absolutely no decels or anything worrying so felt comfortable doing this. If there had been anything worrying picked up the monitoring sessions would have increased.Ward 12 at Wellington Hospital is really understaffed and this caused a few issues with the amount of monitoring I was receiving and at first I often had sessions missed. Obviously this caused me much distress - why be there if you aren't being monitored. At 26 weeks babies are difficult but are not impossible to get a good reading on. The attitude of some midwifes left a lot to be desired and I had a couple refuse to continue to monitor me after a couple of minutes. If a session was missed the midwives would not do a catch up - ie 2 in a shift so it means you have a huge gap on each side. I ended up having throwing a wobbly at Jeremy Tuoy (as Michel was on holiday) and asking for permission for me to do it myself. It wasn't hard and I ended up getting better reading's than many of the midwives. I would hook myself up and find the girls get a trace of about 20 mins and then ring the bell to get someone to check it. Because I had been in for quite a few weeks by this stage I had a basic understanding of what issues look like on the trace so if there was anything I wasn't happy about then I would ring the bell earlier. When I started doing this my stay was alot easier. I can’t stress enough that it is not acceptable to have poorly competed CTG’s. They are the only reason you are admitted and the only way your babies are monitored.
I was offered a single room straight away and then in the middle of my stay was transferred to a double room. I should have transferred before as I did get lonely. Sometimes putting up with the snoring of a pregnant woman is well worth it for the company. By the way if you are reading this Sara you didn’t snore that badly!Lucky for us the babies had no signs of distress so we made it to our maximum date of delivery. The girls were 32+2 weeks when they were delivered. On our delivery day there were many emergencies so I ended up waiting until 2pm before the c-section was performed. For someone who had waited and waited for this day for many months I didn’t expect it to be so stressful. Because of the delay I ended up falling asleep and woke up just as the nurse came into our room to get us. This put me into quite a tailspin as it all seemed to happen at once and I wasn’t totally conscious. I was rushed into the operating room at speed and everything happened so fast. When the epidural was put in I mentally just went to pieces and couldn’t stop crying. I will always remember the very kind Anaesthetist who held me and calmed me down while all the prep was being done. My poor husband was pretty much in the same state as me. The section itself was fine and it all went well. The girls came out screaming and were quickly stabilized by the neonatal team. They were in the room with us for a couple of minutes before being taken to neonates. I got a quick look at them as they were taken away and even got to kiss one on the head as she was departing.
We ended up being a rare, rare case with absolutely no entanglement. In recovery I was bleeding to much to be transferred to the ward by wheelchair so was unable to be taken to see my girls. This was extremely distressing and I did end up trying to get into a wheelchair in the ward. Sadly I wasn’t able to without passing out so I ended up not being able to see the girls until 8am the next morning. My husband took pictures and a video of the girls so at least I got to see them.
I thought that we would breeze through neonates. After all the stress of a monoamniotic pregnancy this part of the journey in my mind was going to be easy. It was alot harder than I realised it would be however and I really struggled with it. Both girls had jaundice and were put under lights. Food tolerance was an issue and while Juliette’s resolved Madeleine ended up having an operation for a malrotation (twisted bowel) at three weeks – this was not related to prematurity. Juliette came home first after 6 weeks and Madeleine was a little later at around 7 weeks. It did feel never ending. However I do feel grateful that we were in Wellington Hospital – New Zealand was having a neonatal crisis at the time and were even organizing to send pregnant woman in danger of a premature birth to Australia for delivery. There were many woman around the country that were sent to another centers where neonatal beds were available. However this meant that we were transferred to from the higher dependency rooms to the feeders and growers room early and that’s where we stayed and watched everyone else go home but us. It was pretty endless!
As I type their names my heart starts racing and many emotions that I have tried to put behind me start to come out of hiding and up to the surface in my body. You have read many success stories with monoamniotic twins and unfortunately the statistics do ring true and not every story ends with a happy ending.
I found out I was pregnant again in October of 2003. It was around Halloween and we had just finished up with trick or treaters when Jeff went out to bring us back takeout food. He has brought back some clam chowder soup for himself and the smell of it was making me gag. A few other symptoms had been surfacing, but the thought of being pregnant was not one that I was welcoming or wanting to admit may be true. Why you may ask? The answer is that on August 4th 2003 I gave birth to my son. He was not even 3 months old. My pregnancy with my son was high risk with a great deal of stress, anxiety, and nervous tension. You can go to http://www.itallstartedatkentstateuniversity.blogspot.com/ for more info on my son’s pregnancy. I will be going into detail about it there.
When I started to suspect that I may be pregnant it was on a Sunday night and most stores were closed. I got in the car and Jeff and Joey were already asleep. I drove around to all grocery stores or anything I could find that may be open at 11:30-12:00 in the night. I finally found a 24 hour grocery store on the other side of town and went in and bought 2 different pregnancy tests. I came home and knew from experience that for me even though the box states “3-5 days before your missed period” that the tests can be faint or state negative when I am really positively pregnant. So I took the first test and this time there was a faint line for positive. I went to bed so upset. I do NOT believe in abortion. That was not an option. The difficulty I was dealing with was that when I was pregnant with Joey I spent months of time on bed rest. What if I had to be on bed rest again? Who would care for Joey? I gained over 50 pounds with Joey. I still had not lost the weight. I had terrible acne for the first time in my life with Joey’s pregnancy. What would my body and face look like now? I wanted to just be a mom. Get on the floor and crawl around and play with Joey. Devote all my time to him. So although in some ways the thought of another baby was exciting, it was the unknown about what this pregnancy would bring. Our kids would be very close in age. It was just a big surprise!
I called my ob who had been through everything with me when I was pregnant with Joey. I was scared to death to call her after all we went through to get Joey here and say “Dr. Howell I think I am pregnant.” I ended up calling and because it was so early in my pregnancy and I basically knew what to do we decided to wait until December of 2003 to have my first OB appointment with ultrasound. The office was busy with patients and holiday parties. I knew to call if I had any problems before the appointment.
Jeff and I went to the first appointment together on December 5th 2003. The reality now that I was pregnant had sunk in. I was having no problems with morning sickness and felt fine. It was easy to kind of forget I was pregnant with how busy I was with Joey. The tech came in to do the ultrasound and when she put the transducer on my belly I saw two flicks, but did not say anything. The tech said something about two. Jeff thought she was saying I was two weeks pregnant and I said no Jeff there are two babies. She confirmed that we were having twins. I was shocked to say the least, but also very excited. I can’t really put into words how my reaction and feelings towards the pregnancy had changed. You have to understand that as a child I dreamed of twins. I told everyone that I came into contact with that someday I wanted twins. In my mind they had to be identical and they also had to be girls. The tech then said something about a membrane and at that time my head was spinning that I would have more like triplets running around at home. Three kids less than one. An instant family. There were two of us and now there are five of us. I thought of comments people may make like “been busy”. But to know that I was having twins. I was overjoyed. My ob came in and then told us that she was sending me to Akron General Medical Center to meet with a Periantologist and that she would no longer have me as a patient. This really saddened me. I was so sad and did not understand why. I felt like she and I could do anything together after Joey’s pregnancy and I trusted her. Now she was telling me that she no longer was handling twin pregnancies nor was she handling high risk. She called me an “ultra high risk” pregnancy. If there really is such a thing. She then explained to me that there was a possibility that my twins were monoamniotic. She explained that that meant that the twins had no dividing membrane between them. She also told us that this did make the twins identical. I heard the identical and whatever else she was saying went in one ear and out the other. I was very naive about the whole thing now that I look back. I did come home and look up monoamniotic on the computer and did a little research, but the high risk part I was used to. I guess I figured we went through so much getting Joey here safely that we would make it through this too.
December 22 2003
Today we went and met with the periantologist for the first time. We had an ultrasound and then went back to his office and sat down and talked. He was Dr. L (not his real name) and he looked tired. He looked like he had not slept in months. There were huge bags under his eyes he kept yawning, but he was able to throw out statistics and came up with our care plan and really seemed to be educated about mono twins and made us feel like he was capable to handle my pregnancy. He described mono twins like two babies inside of a ball. In a normal twin pregnancy there is a small thin membrane separating the twins so the cords do not become entangled. I also found out then that had our egg split again we would be having conjoined twins. His care plan consisted of seeing him every two weeks. I would have an ultrasound every other time I was there. He also said that I would be admitted into the hospital when I reached 24 weeks. At this appointment I was around 12 weeks pregnant. I do remember that the option of having a selective reduction was given to us. I also know he told us that we had a 50/50 chance with this pregnancy. WE then told him that we had an upcoming trip scheduled in January for a week in Florida. He was very arrogant when he told us to go on the trip and “not to worry” about anything because there was nothing that could be done anyways had I started having problems when we were away. The babies are not viable until 24 weeks was something that he kept drilling into us. I just think he could have been nicer about the whole thing.
One thing I remember about this appointment is that when we had the ultrasound we saw the babies playing inside. It looked like they were playing patty cake. I know they were so tiny but to see them doing somersaults and rolling around on top of each other hands touching is something I will never forget.
We were home now from our trip in Florida. I had my first bout with morning sickness the day we left for the trip. I was throwing up the morning we were leaving for the airport. I did okay on the flight and never had any more issues.
One night while we in Florida I remember that the next morning I was able to tell everyone that a dream that I had. I was at Dr. L’s office and I started having problems in the 20th week of pregnancy. I was admitted to the hospital. The problem that I was having was never revealed, but it was very clear that it was the 20th week in pregnancy that a problem would occur.
On February 2nd I had an appointment. This one had an ultrasound. We found out that we were having girls. I was ELATED!!! I had all my dreams coming true. I was the mom of identical twin girls. We have a chalk board/ cork board type thing in our kitchen. On it it said twins and up until this point it had boy names on one side and girl names on the other. We erased it and put girls and then the names of twin A and twin B. Twin A would be Samantha and twin B would be Sydney. Although the girls would be moving around all the time and could switch positions in the womb I decided that whoever was born first would be twin A and given the name Samantha. I was so excited to call her Sammie! Samantha comes before Sydney alphabetically so I decided that whoever came out first had that name.
A few days after the appointment and finding out we were having girls’ things really were starting to sink in. I knew that I would need some help with three babies. We were in the process of switching Joey out of the nursery and putting him into a different bedroom. The room he was in at the time was bigger so instead of making one of the other bedrooms Samantha and Sydney’s bedroom we figured it would be easier to put Joey into another room. We would need 2 more cribs, 2 more car seats. A vehicle that was big enough to hold 3 car seats. There was a lot to do.
Feb. 14th we went to my parent’s house for Valentine’s Day. Many people in my family travel and so I had a calendar and we were marking down who would be out of town and when in case I needed some help. We were starting to get closer to going inpatient so we were talking about Joey and what we would do with him and who could help care for him. We talked again about vehicles and decided that a minivan was in our future. A minivan! This was something that I was trying to avoid. I am a jeep kind of girl and the minivan was something that I did not see myself driving around town. I bought my first preemie girls outfits.
Around this time I was on the computer more often and really starting to research and learn more about mono twins. Every time I did a search on things I would read a story about a loss. Or I would find people who were similar to me. (My name etc) I started to freak myself out and I would get off the computer.
On Feb 16th 2004 I had my next appointment at the hospital with Dr. L. I went to this appointment alone. My mom was at my sister’s house watching Joey and my sister’s kids. Jeff was at work. There was no ultrasound at this appointment just routine pee in cup, blood pressure, weight etc.
I was in the shower getting ready to go to my appointment and starting to have strange thoughts/instincts that something was wrong with baby B Sydney. I was thinking that something was wrong with her head. I had a VERY strong feeling that although I was not suppose to have an ultrasound today, that I would be having one. I did not share my thoughts or feelings. I went to the appointment and got weighed and had my blood pressure taken. The nurse then came over to get the heartbeats on the babies before Dr. L came in to see me. She was unable to get a heartbeat on the babies and replied “the babies are SO active today!” “Lucky you, you get to have an ultrasound”. I wanted to say yeah I already knew that I was having an ultrasound today. So I waited for what seemed like forever. The ultrasound machine was going through some kind of maintenance where it gives data? I don’t really know but the tech was doing something with the machine. She kept apologizing to me that it was taking so long and then she came in to get me. I lay back on the table and soon the cold goo was on my belly. When she put the transducer on my belly I said to her “my babies are dead aren’t they” There was no reply from her for like a good two minutes. All of a sudden that transducer was going really fast, her fingers were going like 100 miles per hour, and she was typing into the machine really quick. She finally said “Laurie I am so so sorry.” I was in tears and she stated that she would be right back. She went to get Dr. L as I lay on this table alone, cold, in the dark, sobbing, and waiting. Dr. L came into the room and put the transducer on my belly again and this was what he said “I told you that this could happen with this type of pregnancy.”
I was told to get dressed and then Dr. L would come in to talk to me about my “options”. I need to state that I am a RN. I was not thinking clearly and my options made no sense to me. I have never thought about babies that die in the womb before. You mean you have to give birth? Was he serious??? I was so excited for a cesarean section after Joey’s pregnancy and birth. The thought of having to give birth? No he was making this up.
Finally Dr. L came in and told me that I had two options. The first was to just wait. Go home and let the babies be delivered when it was time for my body to go into labor and expel them or to be induced. The induction sounded better to me. He then said that I should come back to the hospital the following night to start the induction process. I got home and as things started to sink in I became really outraged. I did not like the fact that because my babies were still and had passed on I was being treated different than someone who was still pregnant with living babies in their womb.
That night Jeff and I were on the phone with family members and friends and letting them know what had happened. I was growing more and more worried and concerned about the fact that I was walking around looking pregnant yet my babies were not alive. This was uncomfortable. This was unimaginable. I didn’t like the fact that here I am alive yet I am walking around with babies that are dead. This is just a strange idea thought and reality to try to get your brain to understand and grasp. Later that night around 11:00pm I had had enough. Jeff and I were in bed and I said are you asleep? He replied no and I said I am having pains in my belly. Yes, there was discomfort but it was not the worst pain that I have ever been in in my life. So I called my mom and we took Joey over to her home and headed for the hospital. I basically had to ask permission to stay and have the induction begin now instead of the following evening. This irritated me to no end. Dr. L had to be called and because there were enough rooms available for pregnant mommies with viable living babies they decided they could spare a room and let me stay. THANKS!
It was a late night. Around 2 am we were finally in a room and I was hooked up with an IV and the first vaginal medication was given to begin the induction process. I was on the OB floor like any other person giving birth. The only difference was that outside of my room was a picture of a leaf that looked like it was wet and crying and in the inside of the room was a mommy lying in bed getting prepared to give birth to dead babies and there was sadness, tears, and no dreams of hearing a baby/babies coming out crying for the first time or feeling the warmth of a newborn on your chest after long hours of laboring.
Jeff and I got a little bit of sleep throughout the night. Not much. The medication so far had done nothing as far as thinning me out or preparing my body to get ready to give birth. It was now a waiting game. The nurses were doing their job and would talk to us about what would happen after giving birth. Because I was farther along in my pregnancy there were many things to think about. Including placing an obituary in the local paper, funeral homes, caskets, and a funeral. I don’t know why these things never occurred to me. I really have had little to no experience in funerals. The only funeral I had been to was my grandpas. So this was all new to me. Including where would we bury the babies?. We decided to have the girls buried next to my grandpa and grandma. My dad’s biological parents. My grandma passed away when my dad was 16 so I never knew her. My grandpa is one of my heroes and someone you can learn more about on my blog. He is who my son Joey is named after.
The nurses talked to me about a disposable camera. I guess they take pictures of the baby/babies and develop them and then send you the ones in the mail that they feel are appropriate. This was a horrific thought for me. I guess because there was really no one from a bereavement department I never gave a great deal of consideration to photos. The fact that they were in control of the whole process made me very disturbed.
The day continued to pass by. I decided that I wanted to have an obituary. I didn’t really know what to say. But I did put something together. I wish I would have added more now like a poem at the end. My dad took care of calling the funeral home and also finding a baby casket. Now it was time to just deliver. At some point in the afternoon I was checked and again no progress was occurring. The nurses gave me permission to walk around and even to go ahead and eat. Jeff and I took a walk and we went and both of us had sandwiches. I was not really in the mood to eat, but knew that at some point I would not be allowed to, so I wanted some kind of energy for later.
I remember bits and pieces of the day. I know that there was a lot of crying and still trying to come to realize that this was not a horrible dream, but my reality. At one point a resident doctor came in to check me and the lady next to me was giving birth. The doctor had left the door open and I remember listening as this woman was in pain and pushing and crying out. A few minutes later we heard the crying of the newborn. I began crying and asked the doctor to simply shut the door. He did a turn and bolted for the door and left telling me he would send my nurse right in. I wasn’t asking for my nurse I just did not want to hear all the joy and excitement next door that I would not be experiencing also.
Around 4-5 pm I started feeling very uncomfortable. I can only describe it as wanting to have a bowel movement. I knew this feeling. I felt it when I was in labor with Joey. The nurse came in and said no progress. So I guess I kind of believed her. I should have trusted myself though that it was not a BM and that in fact the medication was working.
6:00pm Jeff was leaving to go get himself something to eat. My phone rang and I was on the phone with my cousin when the uncomfortable feeling would just not go away. I knew that things were feeling different and changing fast. I told my cousin I had to go and hung up with her. I then rang for the nurse. She got me some pain medication and when she came back Jeff was back too. He could tell right away that things were moving quickly and that I may give birth soon.
Around 6-6:15 a doctor was called and the nurse was getting more pain med for me. Although she checked me again and said nothing was really changing I said no I have to push. She kept telling me not to mostly because nothing in the room was set up yet. I could not hold it anymore and I pushed and in 2 pushes the girls were out. They were born at the same time and it was exactly 6:30pm on the nose. The amniotic sac had not broke and the girls came out together and the sac hit the bed and it splashed open and both girls were right there. The girls were almost 20 weeks. They were 19 weeks and 4 days old. I would have been 20 weeks on that Friday. That was by my calendar. The OB had me at 20 weeks and a few days.
The doctor came into the room a few minutes later and he was a partner of Dr. L. He decided that no further testing needed to be done on the twins because the cause of death to him and everyone else in the room was obvious. Sydney had the cord tightly wrapped around her neck a few times. The cords were also wrapped around Samantha’s body and they found several “grape like” clusters of knots in the cords. “A cluster of grapes” is what the cords were constantly being referred to.
Samantha and Sydney were then being cleaned up by the nurses and were taken out of the room. I just sat there on the bed crying and Jeff was at my side crying too. The whole thing is still very surreal to me. Although I was in the bed having all this occur to me things just seemed to be moving faster around me than I could keep track of. Soon there were many doctors and nurses in the room as well as the anesthesiologist that was supposed to be giving me an epidural prior to the delivery. She walked in right when the girls were being pushed out on the bed. The next things I remember is the doctor constantly putting his hand into my vagina trying to help out the “stuck” placenta. I just wanted my girls and this whole placenta issue was becoming a big deal to everyone in the room as well as the “amount of blood she is losing”. Before I even really get to grips one thing the next thing seems to be occurring. For example my dad and mom and sister and cousin all walk in the room not realizing that the birth had already occurred. Me just wanting to see and hold my babies, and then the Dr. consistently being up in my business tying to help this “stuck” placenta. Then the nurse is coming in with my girls. My girls were in a picnic basket. Still there was all this commotion going on and I was unable to grasp really what all is going on. I just want to go hide in the bathroom with the picnic basket and slam the door and lock out all the other things occurring in my room.
At some point someone makes the decision that I am going to go for an emergency D&C. I need to sign my name to the papers as well as sign a paper that I accept blood to be given to me. They decide that while the or is being prepared I can see my babies for a few minutes. My mom, sister, and cousin leave. They don’t want to see them. My dad stays. The whole thing happens VERY fast. I would say that we had them for about 5 minutes before I am transported back. I do know that I kissed Sydney’s head and it was cold. This was strange at first before I had to tell myself again that yes, she would be cold she is not alive. Then later it occurs to me that I kissed Sydney and not Samantha. WHY? WHY?
The girls go back into the picnic basket and I get wheeled out of the room. I remember the anesthesiologist apologizing that she did not get there sooner and she would give me a good “cocktail”. I don’t know what that girl put in me but it was lights out.
I woke up to some point very groggy knowing that I made it out of surgery, hearing that I lost a lot of blood, they got the placenta, and then I was out again.
In the very early morning hours I woke up to use the restroom. At some point a new nurse came in. She helped me to the bathroom and then helped me get back into bed. She asked if I wanted to see the girls and I said no. She should have told me that “YOU NEED TO SEE THEM NOW THIS IS YOUR LAST AND ONLY CHANCE BECAUSE THEY WILL TAKE THEM FROM HERE REALLY SOON”. I went back to sleep. At some point I remember seeing Jeff and then waking up. I then called for a nurse and asked to see the girls. She said the funeral home already came. That was it. No more chances. I blew it all. I never saw them again.
It has now been over 4 years since the death of Samantha and Sydney. They say that everything happens for a reason. I still to this day do not know the reason why this had to happen to us. I am waiting for the day that the answer hits me in the face and the answer is clear. I still struggle with God and wanting him to explain himself. I have gone to talk to our pastor and although it was a nice talk I do feel like I have done a better job at dealing with my anger about the whole situation. I still can go to the place and get really angry when I go to that place in my body that the anger hangs out in. I try not to let it boil up anymore. The biggest thing I got out of the talk with our pastor is that if I let it go than who will remember Samantha and Sydney. I am the only one that still holds on to them to make their lives mean something. By letting the anger and feelings of the loss go then in many ways I feel like I gave up on them and am telling the world it is okay to forget about them too. I don’t know if they had been older in weeks or months if others would remember them and think of them daily like I do.
We missed out on two precious lives. Our girls would have been greatly loved, cared for, and all the good stuff that moms and dads do. I will never fully understand how a girl could dream of twins at such a young age and wanting them so badly and then having them taken away. I joke to myself now that I should have longed for living twins. I know that I will always be there mom, but I just feel like I got the raw end of the deal. I wish we would have had the opportunities that I do with my other children. To hear them cry, to see them walk, smile, talk, crawl, and get into trouble together. I long to put pony tails in long hair and fun dresses and matching clothes. These occasions are only ones I can dream of.
All in all the only advice and guidance I could give to others is that people in general need to stop and think before they speak. The loss of Samantha and Sydney was emotional and is a sensitive topic for me. To have people add stupid comments and remarks on top of it never help.
I still to this day have the same chalk board cork board in our home. For over 4 years now it still says girls A) Samantha Marie
B) Sydney Evelyn
A family member once told me that I should erase it because I may make visitors into our home uncomfortable. The first time I was out with Joey after the loss and asked if I had other kids my response was a long pause. After I realized I had not responded to the cashier I said no. Then went to my car and cried before going home. I was very close to going back into the store and telling her yes I do have other kids and that they were born still. I once was talking to a lady about Sam and Syd and my feelings of having no pictures and being so upset about no pictures, but seeing them again after giving birth and the whole lack of no time with my girls when her response was “why would you want pictures of that anyways”? That??? My girls were being referred to as a that? I could go on and on. I am able to talk about anything. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Also please visit my blog at http://www.itallstartedatkentstateuniversity.blogspot.com/
My story starts with 3 little girls at home & one surprise pregnancy. My girls were 4, 3, and 3 months when I found out I was pregnant. I was surprised and a bit overwhelmed to say the least. After another month and a half to adjust to the fact that I was pregnant, I went in for another check up and ultrasound – to find out that we were having twins. (Apparently getting pregnant while nursing & on the pill increases your chances of twins) I was in disbelief. We were living in the Dominican Republic at the time, The doctor told me there was no membrane, but he mentioned it as a fact with identical twin pregnancy. I was not worried in the least.
My husband and I decided to have the babies in the US for better care since there were more risks with twin pregnancy. So we came to my mom’s for the Christmas holidays, and I would find a doctor. I found a doctor who referred me to a periontologist, and it was at that visit on January 5, 2007 that we found out what it really meant that there was no membrane. I was 20 weeks along and blindsided. We had 4 weeks to get our lives in order before I would go in-patient. My husband returned to the Dom. Rep. and moved us back (every woman’s nightmare), and I tried to get us settled into my mother’s house. My brother & his family happened to be living at my mom’s as well, and so our family fit into one bedroom.
My husband came back on Tuesday, and I went into the hospital on Friday. My husband did an excellent job of becoming Mr. Mom, and the hospital was only 5 minutes away so I got to see my family every day. I feel like God used that time to strengthen all of my family in a way that has been an enormous blessing. Not one that I want to repeat, but a great blessing.
I went in-patient at 24 weeks, and delivered at 32 weeks 1 day. My oldest was only 4, and my youngest was 10 months. I knew I’d never sleep well again. lol I initially tried to push for a later due date, but my peri was pretty firm on sticking to about 32 weeks. Now that all is said and done, I am grateful for 2 healthy girls.
Chloe Ramona was 3lbs 11oz. and Claire Marcia was 3lbs 4oz, and they spent 25 days in the NICU. They both were on the CPAP for a bit the first day or so, and they both had some ups & downs in the NICU, but it is very hard for me to complain – they are both healthy, beautiful & I cannot imagine our family without them.